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Beach House’s decision to call this record Bloom is almost too perfect. Over the course of four albums that’s exactly what this band has done. Two people from Baltimore started by making incense-smelling, curtains-drawn bedroom pop. Now, eight years later, they make luminous, sky-sized songs that conjure some alternate universe where Cocteau Twins have headlined every stadium on Atlantis. “Bloom” is also what these 10 songs do, each one starting with the sizzle of a lit fuse and at some fine moment exploding like a firework in slow motion. The word captures the music’s slow sonority: the round, gleaming edges of Alex Scally’s arpeggios and how, in Victoria Legrand’s unhurried mouth, all words seem to have a few extra vowels.
And here we thought they’d already bloomed. Two years ago, Beach House signed to big-time indie Sub Pop, started selling out larger rooms, and put out their first great record, Teen Dream. Brimming with lush sadness and lyrics that painstakingly documented the evaporation of a love (“It can’t be gone,” Legrand gasped on “10 Mile Stereo”, “We’re still right here”), Teen Dream was a break-up album, a clearer and more assured exploration of the exquisite, minor-key feelings the band had been mining since their self-titled debut. It felt like such a complete realization of the band’s potential that it had to make you wonder — a little worried, even — where could they possibly go from here?
Bloom suggests that this is the wrong question. “I hate it when bands change between records,” Scally admitted recently. “[T]hat’s not the way we work.” And he’s right: Beach House haven’t changed, or at least not much. Bloom doesn’t stray far from the structure or the emotional tenor of its predecessor. It finds the band making small, sharp adjustments to its craft, but these shifts are so subtle it takes a few listens for them to sink in. The songwriting is tighter, yet the atmosphere feels more diffuse; the lyrics are more straightforward, yet they’re somehow suggestive of larger things. By just about every measure, Bloom‘s wingspan is fuller than anything Beach House have done before. — Pitchfork